July 13, 2017 at 5:53 am #5561
Good Morning! As you know, I am already stressing over my new group of bluebird babies (who haven’t even hatched yet!). I know that everyone has said there is nothing I can do once they fledge, I have been asking myself if I’m sure there isn’t something more I can do to try to protect the babies. Anyway, I am not sure what killed my first group of babies. I know my neighbor (across the street) has cats and occasionally feeds feral cats. I know we have lots of hawks and crows. Of course, I can’t do anything about predatory birds, but I read something in gardening magazine about deterring cats, and I thought I would ask if anyone else has ever done this.
According to the article, you take wooden craft sticks (like Popsicle sticks) and soak them in a jar of ammonia. Then you stick them into your flower beds to keep the cats out. Apparently, they smell the ammonia and think that another cat has marked the area. I have eight large evergreen trees in my yard. The remains of two bluebird babies were found under these trees. I was thinking of putting the ammonia sticks under the trees just before the babies fledge.
Last fall, my husband and I were constantly chasing feral cats out of our yard. We asked our neighbors to please do something about the cats because they were attacking birds in our yard. They were very cooperative and trapped most of the cats, but I still occasionally have feline visitors in my yard.
Do you think this idea is a waste of time and energy? I am willing to try anything at this point.
PennsylvaniaJuly 13, 2017 at 10:58 am #5562
I host feral cats in my front yard, we have a neighborhood lady who neuters them, and they never bother my birds. The key is that they are neutered and fed daily. Heck, they won’t even help with moles in my yard.
A trapping, neuter, and release program really works for them to lose interest in the birds. Believe it or not. And you have way less cats…bonus!July 13, 2017 at 11:00 am #5563
Plus, dogs. My Yorkie will never put up with a cat in my back yard. Even though he is rarely out they seem to steer clear of that little tyrant!July 13, 2017 at 12:01 pm #5564
Your experience with cats is definitely different from mine. Last fall, for the first time in the 22 years that I have lived in this house, my yard was overrun by cats. I have six chihuahuas who barked their bloody heads off every time a cat was spotted. The cats didn’t care. They just stared back, but they never “went home” to the cat lady across the street unless I walked up to them and told them to go home. I had a pair of mourning doves who nested in a tree in my front yard. The cats killed one of the doves and I witnessed them stalking my bird feeder throughout the winter on a number of occasions. After finding my third dead dove, I asked my neighbors to please stop drawing cats to the neighborhood. I’m not talking a cat or two. There had to be at least 15 cats. Maybe they just weren’t feeding them enough.
Since they trapped a bunch of the cats and took them away, it’s not as bad, but I do see a black cat crossing through my yard every week or so.
PennsylvaniaJuly 13, 2017 at 1:24 pm #5565
Believe me, I know the feral cat threat is real. It’s just that when they are properly managed, neutered and fed, their numbers dwindle like crazy and they leave my birds alone.July 13, 2017 at 2:18 pm #5566
Not saying I think cats are OK, but that unfortunately they are part of what we must deal with in protecting our beloved blues. I have 3 cats and they are never ever allowed outside. The irresponsible “cat ladies” who allow ferals to decimate our birds are the bane of my existence!July 13, 2017 at 5:20 pm #5574
I know what you mean. I know that my neighbors simply released these poor kitties somewhere else. It made me feel terrible. They did not do the responsible thing and have them spayed or neutered. I also believe that some of the kitties could be strays that would be suitable for a shelter. I did not have the resources to trap the cats, I tried to lore the one into my dog crate using food, but I was unsuccessful. To be honest, I like cats, but I was never allowed to have them as a child (dad was a cat-hater). Hence, I am a little uncomfortable around cats. I’m definitely more of a dog person.
Right now, I just want to do whatever I can to give my baby blues a better chance. :-)
PennsylvaniaJuly 13, 2017 at 7:21 pm #5575
I like cats, too, but mine are never ever allowed outside! That is the only way to be a responsible cat owner, imho!July 13, 2017 at 7:22 pm #5576
I really do notice that the neutered cat colony we maintain does not bother my birds.July 13, 2017 at 7:39 pm #5577tamseaModerator
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Honestly Susan, I don’t think that’s going to help much in regards to the blues…you never know where they are going to land and you can’t have pop sickle sticks all over your property. Although, if you do that we would all like a photo!! But it might keep them out of certain area…I’ve never heard of it.
Cats. I would think that cats do not just hunt because they’re hungry but because it is just instinct. But I really don’t know.
TammyJuly 13, 2017 at 8:31 pm #5580
You’re probably right. My husband already questions my sanity. I’m already the “crazy chihuahua lady” and the “crazy bird lady.” The Popsicle sticks might force him to have me committed.
However, if I go crazy with the sticks, I promise to take pictures!
PennsylvaniaJuly 13, 2017 at 9:01 pm #5581Carol – Mid-Mo.Participant
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Tammy hit the nail on the head! We have always had cats, the last one we had to put down at 20 years old. She was spayed and never went anywhere except to our barn and then directly to our house. She was very timid and never once tried to get a bird, we would watch her go her path directly from the house to the barn where she stayed for a few hours. The past several years (since my bluebirding) she was mainly a house cat. Our new cat is strictly a house cat because she is younger & was a runaway. BUT, LISTEN TO THIS – we do take her outside for about 30 minutes a day ON A LEASH. YES, WE WALK OUR CAT! She, too, is spayed and is fed daily. However, one day as we were talking around the house she spotted a bird in one of our bushes and got hold of it. Well, I immediately made her turn it loose and scolded her. And this happened the other day again, so I have learned not to walk so close to the bushes. This definitely tells me this is their instinct, nothing you can do about it except keep them away from the birds. At least, this is my opinion.July 14, 2017 at 5:52 am #5585
You know, one of the things that is frustrating about this is that the only dead birds I have seen all summer have been baby bluebirds over the past two weeks (since the fledge). . . and let me tell you, my property is CRAZY with birds. I can sit on my front porch and count at least 10 different types of birds at any time of the day. It’s not that I want the other birds to die, it’s just upsetting that it always has to be my bluebirds.
I still may do the ammonia sticks, but just around the big pine trees where I have seen cats stalking the birds.
PennsylvaniaJuly 14, 2017 at 10:58 am #5586
I hope it works! Please let us know!July 14, 2017 at 12:11 pm #5588
I used to feel that way about the cardinals. They are beautiful and I wish them no harm but when snakes got my blues I wondered why they didn’t get the cardinals who are such an easier target? Truth is they probably get them too but there are so many I wouldn’t notice…..
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